My wife introduced me to a new show on Netflix called Seven Days Out. The show follows the journey of big events seven days before they happen. They feature episodes ranging from the Westminster Dog Show to A League of Legends World tournament. In between, there’s an episode about the revamping of the greatest restaurant in the world, Eleven Madison Park. It was recently ranked number one in the list of The Top 50 Best Restaurants.
As I watched the show I gradually broke out in hives over the kind of perfection co-owner Will Guidara was expecting from everyone, including himself. As a former busboy and waiter, I totally understand the need for this kind of perfection in the high end restaurant business. I’m just glad I’m not in that world anymore. Give me a greasy diner any day.
The chef, Daniel Humm, described what he wanted out of every meal they created and thought that these four questions should be asked by every church and pastor before they create anything.
Understandably, the title may have thrown you off. What would a chef know about crafting sermons or creating youth ministry resources? More than you know. Let me share how I break it down in my own process for the resources I create.
Is it beautiful?
I’m currently going through my Pinterest boards and they are horrendous. I wouldn’t click on or any of these because they’re small and badly designed. I’m replacing every graphic that is not Pinterest sized and giving my viewers an eye full of beautiful, clickable graphics.
Think about every graphic in your church, from the slides you use in your sermons to the bathroom signs to, God forbid, the announcement pin board in the hallway. What do you think guests think when they see them? Do they think, “this church cares about not only what I see but how I see it” ?
Today’s generation, more so than others, cares about the HOW even more than than the WHAT. They care about filters, video editing, graphic design, fonts and beauty. Which means we should care as well. Take time to do a graphic audit of everything and decide if needs a tweak or trashed and started over.
Is it delicious?
Can sermons, resources, devotions, or Bibles be delicious? Sure they can. If you eat steak, my guess is you have a way you like that steak cooked. The way it is cooked makes it delicious to you. The same with printed or digital material.
Think back to pre-technology days in the church, we cared if our Bibles were leather or hardcover, large print or small, covers or no covers. We cared, at some point, whether they were beautiful and, if we were honest, did they make us look beautiful as well.
When I create resources for youth workers, I want them to be beautiful and not just functional because I know the teenagers they serve and I want youth workers to be able to engage them heart, mind, and soul. Beauty is one way to do that. Delicious is another.
We can make beautiful things. We can make beautiful handouts and beautiful bulletins but we can also create beautiful sermons that make the mind and soul of teens crave it like a steak that makes your mouth water. How do you do that?
Leave some mystery to your messages
Challenge adults or teens to dig deeper. You can’t answer every question in a 20 minute message but you can whet the appetite to dig deeper into the scriptures. Messages should be the appetizer to the main course which is time spend with God and his word.
Add some spice
Be passionate about what you’re talking about. I love the anecdote by Donald Miller in the beginning of Blue like Jazz. Miller was not a big fan of jazz until he saw a passionate saxophonist playing jazz on the street. He waned to love jazz like that man loved jazz.
A passionate message is like a commercial for studying your bible. You’re saying, “Look what I got out of reading God’s word, you can too!”
As with all things, too much spice is bad and ruins the meal; just the right touch makes all the difference.
Why do fancy restaurants have their lights dim, white table clothes, candles, and a dozen other small details in place for their customers? Because atmosphere matters.
Just like in churches, air conditioning, music, greeters, etc. all add to the overall delicious experience. Restaurants want you to have a dining experience and not just a meal so they put effort behind touching all the senses.
In a church I attended, the men’s bathroom had soap that smelled like cedar. It’s man soap. It’s a small detail but it adds value to even going to the restroom. Take a look at your stage, your sanctuary, your bathrooms and see what extra touches you can add.
Is it creative?
One of the highest paid jobs in the church these days are Creative Directors. They have a hand in stage design, flow of the service, graphics, videos, and facilities. Does every church need a creative director? Yes. Do they have to be paid staff? No. There are people in your congregation who have an eye for design and detail and you should be listening to them.
If you are one of those people who say, “I’m not creative”, then you definitely need creative people around you to help design the service. If not, you are left to your now devices and you’ll become frustrated on why things didn’t turn out the way you wanted.
Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.William Pollard
Change is coming. You can face change with creativity or be caught in the undertow of the past.
Is it intentional?
Why does this meal exist? This is a great question Chef Daniel Humm asks. Why did that restaurant make this meal the way they did? Was it to wow us? Was it to make us appreciate craftsmanship? Was it to dazzle our tastebuds? Was it to give us a one of a kind experience? All good questions, but we must come up with our own reasons for
- that sermon
- that program
- that staff change
- that design
- that book
Why do we want to teach that, preach that or change that. I recommend Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why for a primer on why WHY? is the most critical question we can answer.
Everything we do in ministry should be intentional. Intention leads to direction and God moving ship in order to steer it. Lack of intention means we are hoping to get lucky, we’re banking on God to intervene or we just don’t respect the people we serve enough to be intentional.
As my creative journey continues, I hope to apply these principles to whatever I put into the world be it blog posts, video, podcasts, etc. They will not all be perfect, beautiful, delicious, or creative.
Others will decide how delicious or how creative something was, but the one thing I can say is that my intention behind it all is to equip, bless and inspire you. That I can control.